Within two weeks Gulu will be the first district in Uganda to benefit from the Rural Communication Improvement Programme. The USD3.7m project to connect the northern region to the telephone network is complete. According to Mr Aldrine Nsubuga, the Uganda Telecom spokesman, the first phase of the three-year project is to be commissioned in two weeks time.

He said the new digital landline switch is already tested and connected to the microwave system, which will enable users to access faster Internet services, and clear voice and fax. "Calling on both landline and mobile will be easier. The people will get quicker access to faxing and Internet facilities," he said.

Nsubuga said the project, which is to benefit the people of Gulu and the rest of the northern region covered under the project, is aimed at removing the communication gap between the north and the rest of the country. He added that users would be billed according to the exact usage time.

The Rural Communication Improvement Programme is under the Northern Uganda Reconstruction Programme (NURP), which was put in place for the development of the region. The Aswa county Member of Parliament, Reagan Okumu, praised UTL and the Belgian government who funded the project. "Communication is the source to development. We have been lagging behind in communication but we should utilise this opportunity well," Okumu said.

The Monitor